Shared Health – Permanent Integration of French‑language Health Care Services in Manitoba

7 Sep, 2023 | Articles, By Santé en français

The major tripartite project led by Santé en français, with the Francophone Affairs Secretariat and Shared Health ended on March 31, 2023. The project started in the spring of 2018. It took shape as follows:

2018‑2021 – Two projects jointly submitted by the three partners (Shared Health, Francophone Affairs Secretariat, Santé en français):

  1. Integration of French‑language services within the new Shared Health organization;
  2. Provincial strategy for bilingual human resources to improve the offer of French‑language services.

2021‑2023 – A three-part project jointly submitted by the three partners (Shared Health, Francophone Affairs Secretariat, Santé en français):

  1. Integration of French‑language services (continued).
  2. Provincial strategy for bilingual human resources (continued).
  3. Data collection approach (OZi) (new).

*            Additional funding 2022‑2023 –campaign geared toward helping health care employees who are overcome by linguistic insecurity.

This major tripartite project was developed in a spirit of cooperation. The project was supported by the Expert Committee, made up of health care leaders and leaders from Manitoba’s French‑speaking community. The Committee was created to provide advice throughout the project, and work was initiated to achieve a profound transformation of the health system. The importance of safeguarding acquired rights was at the heart of our continuous efforts throughout the project:

  • Compliance with laws, regulations and designations.
  • Obligation to serve the French‑speaking community / support its vitality.
  • Strengthening Santé en français’s role as the French‑speaking community’s representative.
  • Respect for Francophone institutions (created by Francophones, for Francophones).
  • Respect for French in designated bilingual facilities.
  • Support for staff participating in French‑language education.

At the end of the project, the improvement end-goal results can be summarized as follows:

  • Improved coordination and flexibility: partner engagement, creation of the Provincial French Language Services Manager position at Shared Health, creation of coordination structures, adoption of the provincial strategic plan for French‑language services.
  • Alignment with French‑speaking populations: identification of priority populations, improvements in the system used to identify French‑speaking patients, plans for three programs under development including:
    • Mental health and dependencies (Mental Health Crisis Response Centre);
    • Public health (WRHA);
    • Children’s health (Children’s Hospital).

This involves implementing a new bilingualism model that provides program clients with French‑language services, regardless of where these clients are located in the province.

  • Critical mass of employees, better coordination: implementation of the bilingualism model.
  • Robust human resources strategy in line with post-secondary education institutions: identification of necessary changes to payroll and human resources systems, development of roadmaps and best practices to support and educate students, process development to identify bilingual sites willing to support bilingual interns, human resources development plans specifically designed for bilingual professionals, formal commitment with the University of Manitoba (Rady Faculty of Health Sciences) to identify bilingual students in health sciences programs.
  • Improvement of access by optimizing the “hubs” model: integration into clinical plan development, clinical team support tools to ensure the Francophone perspective is included.
  • Better understanding of the French‑speaking population’s needs: identification of priority populations, improvements in the client identification system (ADT), development of the bilingualism model, OZi data.
  • Better employee support: collective agreements (development of a specific subsection for French‑language services and designated bilingual positions) and negotiated memorandums of understanding, policies developed, initiative for countering linguistic insecurity, language assessment strategy identified, presentations to senior management.
  • Alignment with HSO standards (patient safety): inclusion in the structure of OZi questionnaires for data collection and analysis.

The implementation of the long‑term vision, established partnerships and a structure rooted in cooperation provide solid foundations for building the future of French‑language health care services across the province. The end of this project is only the beginning of efforts to ensure the sustainability of French‑language health care services. Our future priorities can be summarized as follows:

  • Standardized provincial approach to language proficiency assessment.
  • Internship placements in bilingual settings.
  • Identification of bilingual students in English‑language programs.
  • Raising awareness among provincial officials on how requirements of professional orders affect the recognition of foreign diplomas.
  • Processes to include permanent standardized data collection via OZi.
  • Participation of designated Francophone and bilingual Regional Health Authorities and facilities in the Official Languages Recognition Program (Accreditation Canada).
  • Identification of a potential project with Health Canada to further integrate French‑language services.

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